Star Trek: Voyager – Season 4, Episode 14 – “Message in a Bottle” – When Comedy and Action Align

     “Message in a Bottle,” is a fantastic Doctor episode and I was glad it was the next one I chose as I review an episode for each doctor in “Legacy Trek” (TOS to ENT in time of release). Robert Picardo’s EMH is my favorite character on “Voyager” besides Seven of Nine and this episode really illustrates all the reasons that he is. Andy Dick and Picardo have such amazing chemistry in this episode and I like how the story ties “Voyager” to the Alpha Quadrant. Without saying anymore this is an episode I highly recommend for Picardo’s performance alone.

The story was written by Rick Williams with Teleplay by Lisa Klink with the episode being directed by Nancy Malone.

Using the Hirogen’s arrays Voyager has found a way to contact a Federation ship in the Alpha Quadrant. Due to the limited time they decide to send the Doctor over to send their messages to Starfleet.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

The Romulan Threat – When the Doctor transports over to the ship he finds it has been taken over by the Romulans. This threat is constant as they are paranoid and right not to trust the Doctor. He has to use all of his adaptability to get around them and even after the crew is defeated there is still the Tal Shiar forces that arrive. I’m a huge Romulan fan and this episode does a wonderful job of illustrating why they are such a threat. The Romulans are taking a prototype Starfleet Advanced Vessel called Prometheus, the fact they almost win shows just how great they are as a threat and the fact that they’d captured this advanced ship in the first place.

The Call of Home – When 7 of 9 figures out how they can use the array to send a message to Starfleet we get some wonderful moment of Chakotay, Janeway and members of the crew talking about the letters they want to send home. There are so many beautiful moments that really capture how long they’ve been away and how strong their desire is to return home.

EMH-2 – Andy Dick is fantastic as the EMH-2. He’s arrogant and smart but is completely driven by his programming and rules and regulation. It takes the Doctor to get him out of this. They clash originally but in the end the EMH-2 saves the Doctor when the Romulans find him out. The comedic timing is fantastic and he still feels so human too.

Captain Janeway – This is a good Captain Janeway episode. In this we see her holding out to the last minute to be sure the Doctor gets back and the message is delivered, we see how much she misses home and also how much she cares about the crew. This is a great episode that captures why she is the Captain.

Seven of Nine – Seven of Nine is one of my favorite characters in “Voyager” and this episode helps capture part of the reason why. She is very much the Spock or Odo as she disconnected from the crew by her being a former Borg but she still cares deeply for them and getting them home. She is the one who discovers how to use the arrays and she calls the senior staff immediately to act on it. She also shocks a Hirogen who tries to stop them from using the array when “Clearly diplomacy wasn’t working.” She’s amazing and Jeri Ryan continues to own the role.

The Doctor – This is the Doctor’s episode and seeing him play off the EMH-2 and help the EMH-2 find courage while at the same time outsmart the Romulans and contact Starfleet are the amazing things he accomplishes this episode. Robert Picardo brings a lot of nuance to the role too as we see his fear when he is found out by the Romulans and also his brief moment of gratitude when he is saved, before the EMH-2 rubs it in his face.

The Cons:

Torres – Torres is the worst part of this episode. She starts out dehumanizing Seven and proceeds to do so throughout the episode. She even uses the fact that Seven was a former drone to hurt her. It is awful and I usually like her. This struck me as pointless drama and did nothing but make Torres look like an awful person.

This was a near perfect “Voyager” episode with only the writing of Torres bringing it down. I loved seeing the Doctor take on the Romulans and spend time on the Prometheus. This episode gives us the theme of “Voyager” with the quest for home along with the exploration of self through the Doctor. This is easily a favorite and is one of the best episodes “Voyager” has to offer. Suffice to say, this is one I highly recommend.

Final Score: 9.6 / 10 Would have been perfect if Torres had been written better.

The Lighthouse (2019): The Haunting Light

Image result for The Lighthouse 2019

     “The Lighthouse” is worth the hype. This is a film that feels that taps into the human psyche and the terror of both isolation and the monsters people are capable of being. It does all this while still having nuance within the script and giving us complicated characters. It helps that it is beautifully filmed. I really hope we see more films like this. It certainly feels like a film that Hitchcock would make or any of his contemporaries. From the almost stage nature and the symbolism and depth that carries the film, beyond the amazing performances by Pattinson and Dafoe. Before I get into spoilers, I highly recommend this film.

The film was directed and co-written by Robert Eggers, with Max Eggers being the other writer.

The story follows Ephraim Winslow (Robert Pattinson) who is contracted out to be wickie for 4 weeks on an Island of the coast of New England. He meets impatient man in charge Thomas Wake (Willem Dafoe), and begins to experience strange visions after finding a statue of a mermaid buried within his bed.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

The Cinematography – This film is beautiful. The use light in black and white is used to create a haunting and isolating environment. Jarin Blaschke truly did a beautiful job.

The Writing – The script feels like a stage play at times while still being natural. Characters will give monologues and the two of them read from a book, and that book becomes part of the theme and narrative. Myths and legends are weaved into the lives and lies of our characters. This is all used in the theme of the dreams tied to what the characters preach about. There is a sense of the supernatural through the entire narrative.

The Characters – Dafoe and Pattinson fully inhabit their characters. You have the superstitious Wake whose story about his bad leg is all lie but clearly is connected and worthy of the light from the Lighthouse. Both of them are so incredibly flawed and seeing them build trust with one another that falls apart is tragic and powerful. Each of them carries lies from their past and origins and over the course of the story those truths are revealed and come at costs to the different characters. Each of them are people who wouldn’t have a relationship as colleagues unless they had to. Wake likes his solitude and has committed crimes to keep it and has regret from it just as Winslow regrets what has driven him here. He clearly doesn’t want to be a drifter but feels as if he has no choice and because of it he can’t trust. Neither of them are good people but them being complicated makes their going mad all the more fantastic to witness.

Isolation, Loneliness and Lies and delusions – Some of the major themes of the story involve the isolation of our characters, the lies they tell one another and the loneliness they each face. The characters are consumed by visions and delusions. Winslow dreams of a mermaid and killing or having sex with it and sees visions of tentacles rising from Wake and him looking like a sea deity. The only time the characters aren’t alone is over meal time or when Winslow finally drinks with Wake. It is here we see the connection they come to share that is destroyed by the truth of their actions and past and the all consuming madness of the light.

The Consuming Truth – What ends up being a major theme of the story is consuming truth. As the characters go mad they learn more about one another see in the end the revelation of the lies and truth destroys their sanity and lives. It is powerful as both characters are murders and in turn meet their ends as they attack one another and give mortal injuries that signal that there is no escape for either from the truth.

The Haunting Light – The light from the Lighthouse is used hauntingly throughout the film. Winslow goes from not caring about it it becoming his obsession. He kills to see the light and in turn it leads to his eyes burning and him being punished by the gulls. The light is never peaceful and even when there is ecstasy it always has a dark implication. Wake masturbates to it and it is when Winslow watches him do it he sees tentacles above for the first time, an early sign of his madness. It is unknown if the light brings about the madness or simply reveals it but it is center to the story and I loved it.

I loved this movie. It is truly worth the hype. I really want to see Pattinson’s Batman now and this easily one of the best performances Willem Dafoe has done. If you like movies full of rich themes, psychological horror and are beautifully filmed, this is the film for you. This film doesn’t feel long at all. This might be my favorite film of the year and I can’t wait to see what Robert Eggers creates next.

10 / 10 The film is perfect and well worth your time.